By A Correspondent| Harare Magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa has cleared Corporate rescue practitioner Knowledge Hofisi of allegations of fraud and concealing a transaction from a principal emanating from a US$17 000 payment involving Redwing Mine.
Magistrate Gofa described the two complainants in the case Patricia Mutombgera and Stanley Motto as dishonest for implicating Hofisi despite paying US$7000 to persons not directly linked to the Accused.
The two had alleged that they paid US$7 000 to Hofisi for the purposes of registering a new company yet he bought a shelf company contrary to what the parties had allegedly agreed.
It however emerged that the money was paid to a legal practitioner Listen Zinyengere and not directly to Hofisi as had been alleged by the two with the court stating that there is no evidence to even support that the payment to the lawyer was influenced by Hofisi.
The two also alleged Hofisi fraudulently prepared a joint venture agreement involving Probadeck, Duatlet and Betterbrands and emerged that their lawyers had drafted the agreement.
Represented by Admire Rubaya, Hofisi argued that there was nothing criminal about the allegation and that had they not been happy the only recourse was to sue for specific performance in the civil courts.
It was also alleged that Hofisi received US$10 000 without revealing it to the Master of the High Court which appointed him corporate rescue practitioner.
His lawyer argued that Hofisi was not an agent of the master and that even the master praised him for a job well done and kept him on the job even after a criminal complaint had been filed against him.
“The complainant actually made an application to have the accused removed as a corporate rescue practitioner for Redwing mining Company but the Master confirmed that his department did not see anything wrong with the accused’s conduct and there was no reason whatsoever to remove the qccused from the post.
“There is no employment contract between the Master and the accused person but the accused’s duties are set out in the Insolvency Act. Thus, an independent corporate rescue practitioner cannot with respect be adjudged to be an agent of the Master of the High Court in the circumstances,” Rubaya argued.
It was his further argument that the alleged US$10 000 was part of the the agreed US$90 000 hence no point of informing the Master of the High Court since the law allowed the corporate rescue practitioner to agree with the concerned parties regards his remuneration.
“In terms of the signed agreement in question the accused was actually entitled to be paid 3% of 3 million dollars which was supposed to be paid within seven days. This means that the parties had in actual fact agreed that the accused was to be paid $ 90,000.00 within 7 days from the date of signing.
“The payment was made in the sum of US $10,000 which is less than $US 90,000 which was the agreed fee since there was an extant and valid agreement upon which the payment of US $10,000 was predicated, then in reality and at law, there was no need for the Master of the High Court to be informed before the accused could receive such a payment.
“This is because US $10,000.00 was well below the agreed $US 90,000.00. Thus, the allegations relating to the payment of US $10,000.00 are without any sense since the facts do not satisfy the requirement for the accused person to be said to be an agent of the Master of the High Court,” he argued.
Dealing with all the counts, regional magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa said the “witnesses were dishonest.”
The court said from the evidence, all the money was paid to Zinyengere and that the joint venture mining agreement was also drafted by the lawyer.
The court also stated that State witnesses, the lawyer, Zinyengere and the Master of High Court, Gapara, all exonerated Hofisi from any wrong doing.
The court also stated that the majority of what Mutombgwera denied in her evidence in chief she in turn confirmed almost everything following intense cross examination by Rubaya who used documentation to prove the she had been lying to the court during evidence in chief.